Field Trip Friday: The Book of Kells

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Have I told you what my favorite thing from our trip to Ireland was yet? Ok, I may have. But I have so many favorite things! When we planned the trip, the ONE thing I really, really, wanted to do was visit the Old Library at Trinity College and see The Book of Kells.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in The Book of Kells exhibit, which is sad, because I can’t show you how amazing it is with my own pictures (photos here are open source from Wikipedia Commons). The Book of Kells contains the four gospels in Latin, which has been gorgeously illuminated.


The exhibit explained how Monks would produce books like this one in Monasteries, creating vellum from calf’s skin, measuring carefully and using pin holes and rulers to draw straight lines on the page, and painstakingly transcribing the bible in Latin script on the pages. If a mistake was made, often the Monks would cover them with beautiful illustrations.

Many pages have full color illustrations drawn, and scroll work on the margins. Many of these illustrations have gold leaf added, which makes the pages shine.


The book itself is on display under thick glass in a dimly lit room. I could have stayed in there for hours looking the the pages shown!

Thank Goodness for amazing technology, You don’t need to travel all the way to Dublin and the Trinity Library to see the Book of Kells (although, I recommend you do if you ever have the opportunity). You can view the complete Book of Kells online and enjoy the illuminated text from your home.

On the way out of the exhibit we had a chance to walk through the old library (which I featured on Wordless Wednesday this week).


You’ve probably seen pictures of this place on Pinterest, but nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it was- or how good it smelled. It smelled like old books- Just like you would expect it to! It was built in the 1730’s, but has been changed a little (the roof used to be flat plaster instead of the high wood you see in the photograph), and the books rebound since then. It still very much feels like stepping back in time.


Field Trip Friday

If you’re local and end up at Trinity College, the Library and shop open at 9:30 AM and costs about 10 euros give or take to go in. I would plan on being there before it opens (we were the first in) so you can really get a close look at the book (it’s a small room, and it gets crowded around the book). Go in first, head to the book and take your time looking at it, and then back track through the exhibit to read the displays. Then look at the book again- and head to the old library.

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